14,306 pilgrims will leave for haj starting June 4

by NURUL SUHAIDI / pic by HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN

UP TO 14,306 prospective pilgrims will leave to perform the haj in Saudi Arabia starting June 4.

Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH) ED Datuk Seri Syed Saleh Syed Abdul Rahman said the selection process and finalisation are carried out based on the usual process, Saudi Arabia’s government requirements and according to turn.

“The priority is given to the pilgrims from the year 2020 whose trips were postponed due to pandemic, aged below 60, fully vaccinated and have passed their health checks and haj requirement process,” he said during a media briefing at Menara TH today.

The Saudi government has scaled down the number of total pilgrims to 45% with only one million Muslims capacity will be performing haj this year.

“Eighty-five percent is allocated for Muslims worldwide, while 15% is from the Arab continent,” Syed Salleh said, adding that the quota for Malaysia was also reduced by 45% to 14,306 compared to 31,600 pilgrims previously.

Based on turn, those who were not selected will be automatically listed forward into the following year. However, for the appeal, he said the priority is given to the mahram and guardians.

The number of Mutawif and workers also reduced by 45% with only 340 in total to be accompanying the pilgrims. Half of them comprised the medical team.

Despite the reduction, Syed Salleh assured that the pilgrims’ safety and wellbeing will be taken care of.

“This includes the accommodation, facilities, food, transportation, sim card, financial services and others necessary upon request,” he added.

“The pilgrims will be accompanied by a well-experienced medical team and equipped with facilities that welcome them upon arrival to the Holy land,” he said.

It is reminded that all pilgrims need to undergo the PCR test 48 hours before the registration time and not before the departure, with only those who tested negative will be allowed to proceed with their haj.

“We have also checked with the hotels and understood that isolation facilities and medication are provided in case the pilgrims are infected during their haj,” he added.

Malaysia is among the few countries that are permitted to exercise the entry procedure clearance process prior to entering Saudi Arabia under the Makkah Route initiative.

“Therefore, all the immigration and customs clearance processes will be exercised in the Kuala Lumpur International Airport before their departure and they don’t have to go through this process upon arrival. Pilgrims may head straight to their respective hotel, their bags also will be coordinated and managed by the agents,” Syed Salleh explained.

“This initiative eases them by granting entry procedures before arrival and helps reduce the waiting hours which can normally be prolonged up to four and 10 hours. Instead, the process later can be shortened to less than an hour,” he said.

TH also launched three mobile applications to accommodate the pilgrim’s journey and encourage them to download and make use of them.  

One of them is THhujjaj which enables easy access to their data and journey, E-Bimbingan provides hands-on knowledge on ibadah for them to revise and E-Taib a call centre which allow them to interact face to face with the worker to answer their inquiry throughout the journey.

TH also teams up with Bank Islam and will be equipped everyone with a debit card for cashless transactions.

Currently, the pilgrims are still undergoing their Perdana Haji Course until the end of this week to strengthen their understanding and preparation which involves 20 central masjids at each state level nationwide.

“We will start sending the flight schedules to them next week by stages and another online session on May 25 to clarify everyone on the registration process and overall movement.

 “Therefore, I advise the congregation to take care of their health during this period, well equipped themselves, physically, mentally and learning should be given priority,” he said.

Given the high temperature and humid weather in the Holy land, he also reminded the pilgrims to avoid prolonged exposure to the sun which may cause heatstroke and dehydration.